Biology Courses - Major Curriculum

BIO 160: Foundations of Biological Inquiry
Instructors: All Biology Faculty

An introduction to the study of organisms and life systems, intended for students planning to major in a natural science. This course explores the overarching principles of evolutionary theory, emphasizing the empirical approaches and habits of mind that characterize biological disciplines. Students will gain experience in core competencies such as experimental design, hypothesis testing, analysis of quantitative data, modeling, and interpretation of experiments and observations. In addition, the course addresses how biological understandings inform on other disciplinary areas, including social and political concerns. Four hours of combined laboratory and discussion per week.
High school coursework in math, chemistry, and biology is normally expected.
Meets general academic requirement SC.

 

BIO 165:  From Ecosystems to Organisms
Instructors: Heiman, Iyengar, McCain, Niesenbaum, Sprayberry, Zipf

A disciplinary introduction to the study of plants, animals, and microbes, as well as the ecosystems they inhabit.  Students will apply core evolutionary principles to understand the structure and function of living things at the levels of organisms, organ systems, and ecosystems. Students will learn how organisms transform energy and matter, including metabolism and homeostasis, and how complex living systems interact with other organisms and the broader environment. This course applies and develops the core competencies introduced in BIO 160.
Three hours of lecture and one hour of recitation per week.
Prerequisite: BIO 160 (may be taken concurrently).
Meets general academic requirement SC.

 

BIO 175:  From Organisms to Molecules
Instructors: Cuadra, Hark, Edwards, Walther, Wightman

A disciplinary introduction to the study of cells and macromolecules as it informs on the mechanisms of life. Students will apply core evolutionary and genetic principles to understand how information is stored, transmitted, and decoded in living cells. Students will learn how molecular pathways control gene expression, intercellular and environmental communication, and metabolism. The study of cellular systems informs on both larger organismal mechanisms including development and physiology and structure-function relationships at the molecular level. This course applies and develops the core competencies introduced in BIO 160.
Three hours of lecture and three hours of laboratory per week.
Prerequisite: BIO 160 and CHM 104 (may be taken concurrently).
Meets general academic requirement SC.

 

BIO 204: Invertebrate Zoology

Iyengar
Study of the diversity of animal phyla, emphasizing similarities and differences among groups, adaptations to their respective environments, and potential evolutionary pathways for various organ systems. Laboratories emphasize structure and function of invertebrate anatomy through observation and dissection of living and preserved specimens. A required weekend trip to an aquarium or the ocean should be anticipated. Three hours of lecture plus three hours of laboratory per week. Prerequisite: Biology 151 or 165

BIO 205: Cell Biology
Edwards
The structure and function of eukaryotic cells will be explored at the molecular and cellular levels. Topics include cell signaling, membranes, organelles, cell cycle control, motility, and programmed cell death. Primary literature is analyzed in recitation sections. Laboratory provides experience in methods of subcellular fractionation, cytology, and cell culture. Self-designed investigations test hypotheses using fluorescent microscopy. Three lecture hours, one hour recitation, and three laboratory hours per week.
Prerequisite: BIO 152 or 175.

BIO 215: Genetics
Wightman
Study of genetic analysis in the four main branches of genetics: classical genetics, molecular genetics, population genetics, and genomics.  Experimental approaches, human genetics, and model systems are emphasized.  Topics include mutations, gene interactions, chromosomes, quantitative and evolutionary genetics, gene mapping, gene cloning, and genetic engineering.  Three class hours, three laboratory hours, and one recitation hour per week.  Prerequisite: BIO 152 or 175.

BIO 220: Biochemistry
HarkWightman
Study of the chemical and biological properties of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids and nucleic acids. Topics include structure-function relationships of biologically relevant molecules, biochemical techniques, and intermediary metabolism. Three class hours, three laboratory hours, and one hour recitation per week. Prerequisite: BIO 152 or 175 and CHM 104. CHM 201 or 203/205 should also be previously completed or enrolled concurrently.

BIO 225: Microbiology
Cuadra

Study of the morphology, physiology, biochemistry and genetics of bacteria as well as the structure and replication of viruses. Relationship of these microbes to human disease is emphasized. Laboratories stress aseptic technique, microscopic observation, bacterial physiology and identification. Three class hours plus three laboratory hours per week. Prerequisite: BIO 152 or 175.

BIO 240: Developmental Biology
McCain
An overview of the cellular and developmental mechanisms that control embryogenesis. Laboratories include the study of live embryos from sea urchins to chickens, as well as preserved embryo slides. Three class hours and three laboratory hours per week. Prerequisite: BIO 152 or 175.

BIO 242: Entomology
Edwards
A comprehensive study of the insects. Insect physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology are integrated with an exploration of insect diversity, ecology, evolution, and the impact of insects on humans. Labs develop insect identification skills and provide experience in a variety of biochemical and molecular techniques as they are applied to current research in insect science. Three lecture hours plus three laboratory hours per week. Prerequisite: BIO 152 or 175.

BIO 245: Comparative Anatomy
Dowd
Study of the evolution and morphology of vertebrates. Emphasis is given to the comparative study of vertebrate homology and the adaptive value of structure. Laboratories consist of detailed dissections of representative taxa. Three class hours plus three laboratory hours per week. Prerequisite: BIO 151 or 165.

BIO 250: General Physiology
Sprayberry
Study of the concepts and principles that form the basis for understanding the mechanisms of animal physiology. The emphasis of the course is on the interrelationship of physiological processes and how they relate to the biological needs of mammals. Three class hours, three laboratory hours and one recitation hour per week. Prerequisite: BIO 151 or 165.

BIO 255: Ornithology
Klem
A detailed and in-depth study of avian natural history. Emphasis is given to population ecology, behavioral ecology, and conservation biology of birds. Laboratories are exercises and field trips to develop and practice techniques to identify, describe, and record the biology of birds in their natural habitat. Three class hours plus three laboratory hours per week. Prerequisite: BIO 151 or 165.

BIO 260: Field Botany and Plant Ecology
Niesenbaum
A field research oriented course emphasizing plants. The focus is on articulating and quantitatively answering relevant research questions on the diversity, ecology, and evolution of plants. Special emphasis is given to hypothesis development, data collection and analysis, and interpretation and presentation of results. Three class hours plus three laboratory hours per week with extensive field work. Prerequisite: BIO 151 or 165. Meets general academic requirement W.

BIO 262: Cultural and Economic Botany
Niesenbaum
Study of the ecological relationship between plants and humans, and the implications for local and global conservation. Topics covered include medicinal plant use, agroecology, plant ecology, tropical ecology, and community-based conservation. Three lecture hours and three laboratory/field hours per week Prerequisite: BIO 151 or 165.

BIO 265: Behavior

The biological study of behavior. Emphasis is given to the comparative study of genetics, morphology and physiology, ecology and evolution of animal behavior. Laboratories are exercises or field trips to observe, describe, and interpret the actions of animals in their natural habitat; special emphasis is given to hypothesis development and study design and the collection, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of research results. Three class hours plus three laboratory hours per week. Prerequisite: BIO 151 or 165. Meets general academic requirement W.

BIO 268: Freshwater Ecology
Iyengar
An examination of biotic and abiotic interactions occurring in the full range of freshwater systems, including streams, ponds, and lakes. Content includes interactions among living organisms, energy flow within and among living communities, survival strategies, water chemistry, adaptations of organisms for survival in water, and current human impacts on aquatic environments. Investigative methods in aquatic ecology will also be examined, especially through the laboratory component of the course. Three lectures and one laboratory meeting weekly.
Prerequisite: BIO 151 or 165.

BIO 270: Ecology
Iyengar
Study of the interactions of plants and animals with their non-living environment and with each other. Topics include species diversity, ecosystem interactions, and population and community ecology. Extensive field work, often despite the cold weather. Three class hours plus three laboratory hours per week (plus time for transportation). Prerequisite: BIO 151 or 165.

BIO 272: Field Marine Biology
Iyengar
Study of the structural and functional adaptations of marine organisms in relation to physical, chemical, and biological components of the marine environment. Laboratory study of marine ecosystem dynamics, marine plants and animals, and weekend trips to coastal field stations and aquaria. Three class hours plus three laboratory hours per week. Prerequisite: BIO 151 or 165.

BIO 275 – BIO 279: Field Investigations in Biology
Iyengar, Niesenbaum, Staff
Field investigations focusing on a particular site or theme in ecology. Examples include marine ecology in Maine, and tropical ecology in Peru, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. May be taken for one-half course units or one course unit. May be enrolled more than once. Prerequisite: BIO 151 or 165.

BIO 335: Immunology


Study of the immune system and its role in maintaining the physiological integrity of multicellular organisms against infection, malignancy and transplantation. Specifically, the following concepts are studied: structure and function of antibodies and antigens, biology of lymphocytes and their interaction, immunoregulation, and immunopathology. Three class hours plus two recitation hours per week.. Prerequisite: BIO 152 and any Group I course numbered 200 and above. Meets general academic requirement W.

BIO 350: Applied Physiology
Advanced topics in physiology, including cardiovascular biology, respiratory biology, neurobiology, immunology, and endocrinology will be studied. Students will apply and extend their understanding of basic and clinical physiology to the analysis of case studies presented to the class by health professionals. Emphasizes skills in problem solving, writing, and oral presentation. Prerequisite: BIO 250. Meets general academic requirement W.

BIO 360: Histology
McCain
Study of the microscopic anatomy of vertebrate tissue and organs, with a detailed consideration of the relation of structure to function. Three class hours plus three laboratory hours per week. Prerequisite: BIO 152 and BIO 205, BIO 245, or BIO 250.

BIO 405: CUE: Cell Biology of Human Disease
Edwards
The cell biology of human diseases will be investigated using current primary literature, emphasizing experimental methods and the interpretation of data. Topics will include cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, muscular dystrophy, and other human health concerns that have been the topic of recent research at the cellular level. Students will critically analyze current controversies in the cell biology literature. Prerequisite: BIO 205 or consent of instructor. Meets general academic requirement W.

BIO 412: CUE: Molecular Biology
Wightman
A topical course investigating the techniques and applications of recombinant DNA, with a focus on their application to cancer research. The course provides a detailed treatment of recombinant methodologies. Topics covered include gene regulation, genomics, and molecular mechanisms of cancer, viewed through a historical lens. Discussions and writing assignments focus on classic and contemporary primary literature and the relationship between biomeical research and society. Three class hours per week. Prerequisite: BIO 152 or 175 and BIO 205, BIO 215, BIO 220, or BIO 225. Meets general academic requirement W.

BIO 423: CUE: Scanning Electron Microscopy
McCain
Students learn how to prepare specimens for scanning electron microscopy; instruction includes fixation procedures, critical point drying, sputter coating and operation of the microscope. Students design and complete an independent research project, analyze and discuss scientific literature, and learn how to write a scientific paper. Three class hours and three laboratory hours per week. Prerequisite: Any two biology courses numbered between 200 and 299. PHY 211 and CHM 201 or CHM 203/205 should also be previously completed or concurrently enrolled. Meets general academic requirement W.

BIO 460: CUE: Physiological and Behavioral Ecology

A seminar course investigating the physiological adaptations of vertebrates to their environment. Readings are from the primary literature. Students design and complete an independent research project and learn how to write a scientific paper. Three class hours and three laboratory hours each week.
Prerequisite: Any two biology courses numbered between 200 and 299. Meets general academic requirement W.

BIO 466: Conservation Biology
Heiman

This CUE course explores the ecological and genetic underpinning of a field designed to conserve biodiversity.  We will begin the course by exploring what biodiversity and conservation are and how ecosystems and populations are impacted by human activities.  We will then analyze the effectiveness of various conservation techniques in the face of growing human impacts on the environment.  Conservation Biology is a project-based service-learning seminar course with an emphasis on critical analysis of scientific literature and skill development.  Three class hours per week.
Prerequisite: Any two biology courses from List, A, B, or C. Meets general academic requirement W.

BIO 470: Evolution
Iyengar
Study of the processes of evolution from macromolecules to the genesis of major groups of life. Examination of Neo-Darwinian theories of adaptation and natural selection as well as competing scientific explanations of evolutionary change. Assessment of contemporary criticism of Darwinian theory. Three class hours per week in seminar format with emphasis on reading of primary literature and discussion. Prerequisite: Any two biology courses numbered between 200 and 299. Meets general academic requirement W.

BIO 472: Genomes and Gene Evolution
HarkWightman
A central question that remains in biology is the relationship between genetic changes at the DNA level and evolution of organismal form and function. This capstone course focuses on modern comparative and regulatory genomic approaches primarily through the lens of the evolution of animal genes. Lectures feature review of primary literature and use of bioinformatics tools; laboratory experience centers on DNA microarray technology. Discussions and writing assignments will be centered on student projects in distinct areas of genome science. Three hours per week. Prerequisites: BIO 152 or 175 and (BIO 205, BIO 215, BIO 220, BIO 225, or BIO 240). Meets general academic requirement W.

BIO 960: Biology Internship
Staff
Majors are eligible for internship programs with the approval of the department head. Internships do not count as one of the nine biology course required for the biology major.

BIO 970: Biology Independent Study/Research
Staff
Open to qualified students. A proposal for independent study is developed by the students in consultation with a faculty member. The department head must approve the proposal. May be taken for one-half course unit or one course unit. May be taken more than once. However, only one Independent Study/Research course can be counted as one of the nine biology courses required for the biology major.

NSC 311:  Neurons and Networks

An exploration of the molecular and cellular foundations of nervous system function.  Topics discussed will include the ionic and electrical properties of neurons; the biochemistry of synaptic signaling; structure and function of ion channels and neurotransmitter receptors; neuronal and synaptic plasticity; and the functional regulation of basic neuronal circuits.  Research methods of cellular and molecular neuroscience will be introduced through class discussions, relevant primary literature, and laboratory investigations.  Three class hours and three laboratory hours per week. May count as an elective toward the biology major.  Prerequisite: BIO 152 or 175.